The Pro’s Breakdown Championship Waters: How They Fish Pickwick For The 10th Anniversary BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship Presented by Cabela’s
By Cody Levy
SAN ANTONIO, Texas –With less than a week away from the first day of practice for the 10th Anniversary BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship on Sunday, May 17, anglers are transitioning from studying textbooks to studying contour maps, tackle selection, and summertime bass patterns on Pickwick Lake. Many anglers competing in the upcoming championship have been to Pickwick Lake among the previous three championships held in Florence, but many anglers will also be competing on this stretch of the Tennessee River Chain for the very first time.
The participants of the 10th Anniversary Championship event will now be able to get inside some of the industry’s top professionals’ minds as if they were fishing Pickwick Lake in the same time frame as these collegiate anglers. Cabela’s Pro Clark Wendlandt broke down how he would fish Pickwick Lake with simplicity on how to find where the bass live.
“Due to the lock being out of service for this event, everyone will have to find them on Pickwick, but the lake is plenty big enough and good enough of a fishery to handle it,” said Wendlandt, the 3 Time FLW Angler of the Year. “For guys who haven’t experienced Tennessee River ledges, basically you’re looking for long bars with shell and stumps on them and most of them will be in the current. One thing about these Tennessee River Lakes is that the fish live offshore for a majority of the year so there are plenty of fish to catch along these ledges.”
With the spawn coming to an end and the fish in a transition period, Pure Fishing Pro, Mike Iaconelli shared his insight on the bass movement in May.
“The bass on Pickwick Lake in mid to late May are almost always or in the post spawn/ early summer time phase. I start looking for them on creek channel and river ledges near the mouth of spawning pockets and creeks. The key depth is usually around 8 to 20 feet and I try and target irregularities on the drops. These can be shell beds, turns, or high spots.”
Yamaha Pro Jeff Kriet had some good insight on how to combat the movement of the fish to intercept them in their path.
“You’re still going to have fish shallow, but you’ll have fish start to slide out offshore as well” said Kriet. “The guys that can find them offshore are usually going to catch the bigger sacks of fish though. In May, the fish will usually be on secondary structure like some of the creeks, secondary cover, and shallower ledges closer to spawning pockets because they will be just moving out from the spawn.”
In this transition period, Kriet recommends throwing a Carolina rig, jig, crank bait, spoon, and a swimbait.
“The usual Pickwick Lake summertime baits will be a solid lineup, but on shallower areas around the lake. I would be around major creeks, trying to find the fish out there in that 6-12 foot range and concentrate on those areas,” Kriet added.
Some other baits that will play a big role on Lake Pickwick in this time frame would be a swimbait and a ten inch Berkley Power Worm.
“My number one bait would be a Berkley PowerBait Slim Shad. I would throw it on 17lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon with a 1oz jig head,” proclaimed Berkley Pro, Justin Lucas. “Second bait of choice would be a plum 10" Berkley Power Worm. I would Texas rig it with a 3/8 weight and use 15lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.”
“I would add that the 5" Berkley PowerBait Hollow Belly Swimbait in Tennessee Shad on a 1/2-3/4 oz jig head will be good. I would use the same worm Justin mentioned but on a 1/2 oz jig head. 15lb Trilene for both. The fish will be on ledges on the main lake as well as the bigger creeks. 10-25' is the best depth range, but they will find a 4' window where most of the action is,” added Ott DeFoe, Berkley Pro.
Iaconelli said “in addition to a Crankbait, two of my favorite ways to catch them are on a Carolina rig and a drop shot. For the c-rig, I usually go with a Berkley Havoc Boss Dawg in plum or green pumpkin color! For the drop shot I mix it up between a Havoc Bottom Hopper and a Havoc Flat Dawg rigged wacky style.”
“The key on Pickwick is using your electronics to fish deeper structures, ledges, and shell beds, along with using good maps to find the changes in contours,” said YUM and Booyah Pro, Jimmy Mason. “The fish are getting out on the ledges but there are still plenty of fish up shallow, but for the most part this tournament will be hitting at a really good time.”
Berkley Pro, Gary Klein said his favorite tactic to catch giant bass on Pickwick Lake in May would be to throw a big jig.
“At that time of year on Pickwick my go to bait would be a Green Pumpkin/Blue 1/2oz and 3/4oz football head jig with a Green Pumpkin Havoc Deuce trailer on Berkley 15lb 100% Trilene Green Fluorocarbon. I would also pay a lot of attention to current,” Klein added.
Another important factor that will come into play is the shallow bite that can be overlooked on a lake known for ledge fishing. With the spawn on the decline, the active shad and brim spawn is starting to take place.
“For the guys that aren’t ledge fisherman, you can still catch a good limit shallow,” stated Kriet. “The guys that can find the shad spawn can also catch a big limit really fast as well on shallower bars. The early morning topwater bite will definitely be a factor in the event.”
“There are a few fish that will be spawning, guarding fry, and the brim fishing is really good right now so there will be bass eating brim too,” said Mason. “There is a pretty active shad spawn as well so anglers can get on a good topwater bite in the mornings too. There will be a ton of fish caught many ways and on this lake anglers can fish to their strengths.”
Another key factor in catching giant Pickwick Lake Bass is the current. As a 43 mile expanse of the Tennessee River Chain, the start-and-stop flow of current can be like a dinner bell for Pickwick bass.
“On any of the Tennessee River lakes, current will play a big factor on when the fish will bite. Pickwick is definitely no exception to this and the more current they run, the better the fishing will be,” Wendlandt said.
Mason said that “current is definitely a factor which will definitely affect weights. But anytime current flows on any part of the Tennessee River, it definitely helps the bite.”
“This is a lake that is important to fish to your strengths because you can catch big fish no matter where you are throughout the lake,” Kriet added, “but it will be important for everyone to pay attention to the current, if there is any, as fish will bite a lot better.”
Sunday, May 17 at sunrise will be the first day anglers are able to get out on Pickwick Lake and put this information to work. Anglers competing in the 10th Anniversary BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship Presented by Cabela’s will enjoy a four day practice period with a week full of events including Yamaha Angler Appreciation Night on Tuesday and the Registration Banquet after the last day of practice on Wednesday.
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About the ACA
The Association of Collegiate Anglers, a division of Careco TV, is a sanctioning body developed to facilitate growth, development, and structure within competitive collegiate bass fishing. The ACA provides support to dozens of school operated regional events nationwide and owns the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, the largest participatory collegiate tournament circuit in the country. With dedicated collegiate fishing programming on several television networks, four nationally televised collegiate bass fishing events, and thousands of members, the ACA is the leader in competitive collegiate bass fishing. For more information on the ACA, or the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, visit www.CollegiateBassChampionship.com. For more information on Cabela’s visit Cabelas.com, for more information on CarecoTV, visit www.carecotv.com.